Missionaries Brian and Andrea Holmquist returned to their home in a Bagwido village in Papua New Guinea last week.
The people dressed up, painted their faces and had flowers and mud ready to fling at the Holmquists for a traditional Bagwido greeting. However, instead of the boisterous yelling and mud-slinging there were quiet tears, hugging and wailing. Brian's dear friend and Bagwido brother, Sepinus, died two day earlier.
"What a day of mixed emotions," wrote missionary Mark Woodard. "It was really neat to watch how our Bagwido friends handled this."
Sepinus was in his 20s and is survived by his wife Gabrella and their 3-year-old son Issac Samuel. His parents, Bonipas and Sophia, are believers as well as several of his sisters and their families.
Sepi, as he was known to friends, had a brain tumor and gradually lost his sight, his speech and finally the use of his arms and legs. Sepi trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He loved listening to the tapes of Bible teaching and reading from his Bible.
Shortly before his death, while he could still speak, he whispered to his wife, "You know I am truly not afraid to die because I know that Jesus is waiting for me. I know that I will be with Him." Then he began to cry. Mark asked him why he was crying and he replied that his son, Issac Samuel, would grow up without a dad.
The Bagwido believers are claiming the verse from Acts where Stephen, while being stoned, looked to Heaven and saw Jesus standing to welcome him. They said, "This is not our real home. We are here on the ground for only a short time. We know Sepinus is now truly home."
Pray for Sepi's family, especially his wife Gabrella. Pray also for the Holmquists and Woodards as they too grieve for Sepi and seek God's wisdom and grace to help the Bagwidos through this difficult time.